Trying Not to Lean too Hard

Overcoming

Confident
Completely with you here. I too struggled with a very unpredictable mum and father and I long for experienced, reasonable comments from people who have experience. I hanged out at friend’s houses a lot when a teenager as well and was trying to get crumbs of their advice to their children. I also found that generally old people seem more tolerant to behavioural shortcomings or clumsiness because they can see a broader picture. Everyone copes as they can.

Depending on the type of person, you might want to open up or not. I struggled a lot to tell my friends how much I loved them, and that always has lead to a form of distancing on their behalf. The friendship would typically escalate very fast and then stay stuck on a certain level of emotional involvement. I then convinced myself that they detested me or something, truth was that I was keeping them at an arm’s length and they progressively lost interest in the connection or simply had other things to do than waiting for me to get out of the bushes and forgot.

With you with the BPD issue, it is a very, very hard disorder to deal with. I hope both you and your mum are okay.

For your older friend, simply saying small little things that show how you value her will probably do it. I have scared a few people before by coming up with near-declarations of love, but almost of all of them responded very positively. I have more regrets for the people I never said anything.

Another thing. Some people, especially older ones, aren’t from the messaging culture and really don’t tend to answer messages unless they have a question in it. Some ways of wording things as too direct or too indirect actually make it difficult to answer anything. I suffer greatly of presenting things as if it was already resolved in some way and it leaves people confused as what to do about it or wait for you to actually be in an interaction and not something that has to do with yourself. That last part you look like you have already sorted, so all you have to do is to find the right words to express your feelings. Don’t be afraid to be affectionate in your expressions. There is nothing wrong in saying what you feel.

Even if it comes across as a bit clumsy, it’s okay. And you can have a discussion about it. The only thing I would be attentive to is to defuse the intensity as you don’t want anyone to feel responsible for your feelings.
Thank you. I hear what you're saying. A lot of why I have struggled to simply say it is not wanting to make her feel responsible. (I know that she is not.) I am virtually no contact with my mother who has BPD. I don't think that repairable and it wouldn't fix what has happened anyway. Scaling back the intensity will be important. I feel like my awkward "hinting around," has only come out more odd and off-putting. Then again, that could all be my anxiety and maybe I'm not saying/communicating anything at all (facepalm)
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
Thank you. I hear what you're saying. A lot of why I have struggled to simply say it is not wanting to make her feel responsible. (I know that she is not.) I am virtually no contact with my mother who has BPD. I don't think that repairable and it wouldn't fix what has happened anyway. Scaling back the intensity will be important. I feel like my awkward "hinting around," has only come out more odd and off-putting. Then again, that could all be my anxiety and maybe I'm not saying/communicating anything at all (facepalm)
I’m sorry for your situation with your mum but be sure that it’s completely understandable and not your fault.

Hinting is a reflex you end up getting when you are with people who might hurt you in a way or another as you are testing if they are receptive or not to your needs. In the case of BPD where it often goes from a person being extremely attuned to you to completely oppositional or worse, it’s completely understandable that it’s hard-wired in your functioning now.

It’s okay to feel confused and you can be gentle on yourself and take your time. Evaluate what makes you anxious in this and some scenarios. Being simple and affectionate without being inteeeeeense, I guess it’s the right thing.
 

Friday

Moderator
She won't reject you. Just be real easy in your actions
That’s a bold statement to make, if you don’t know the woman

I would. And have.
I’m not interested in being anyone’s surrogate mom.

Friend or mentor? Sure! But not the avatar/muppet for what they imagine a mom to be. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have ended a friendship over it, simply refused to play the role they want me to play, but I’ve come to learn it’s best just to end things right then and there. To do otherwise is simply unkind. Because I’m not a person to them, but a warm body to shove into a role. After me there will be the next warm body, and the next, and the next. Who we are individually? Doesn’t matter. We kinda sorta fit a mom-shaped hole, and our only value how well we’re able to be shoved into it.

Now... when a KID asks me to be their mom? I won’t end the relationship, but no way in hell am I going to break their heart & f*ck their trust in people by agreeing to be something I’m not. They are going to be loved to the moon and back by soooooooo many amazing people in their life, and I’m not going to ruin their ability to shine in that, to feel it in their bones and know it in their heart. There’s a special place in hell for people who break kid’s hearts by breaking their word to them. Instead? I’m going to have to be clever and determined, pouring massive amounts of energy into them, to start the lesson. >>> that they are going to be loved by soooooo many amazing people in their life, and that we carry those people in our hearts so we’re never alone, even if that person is on the far side of the world. They’re in our hearts, and we’re in theirs. <<< before I’m on the far side of the world & out of their life forever, except as a memory. So my memory is one more person who loves them, making them stronger; not one more person who left them. Because a child’s trust? Is a sacred thing.

I’ve seen this sort of thing play out waaaaaay too many times to ever willingly be a party to it.

Take all the problems inherent in Transference Therapy but?
- Remove the years of training & education, layers of personal & professional support, & eeeeeevery single boundary designed to keep both people safe in an incredibly volatile situation
- Add someone not working through their real issues, with a real person, in very limited blocks of time with a highly trained professional, but a 24/7/375 peer based relationship, with an imaginary/IDEAL/fantasy person that no one on planet earth could ever hope to live up to, bonded at the molecular level with a very real person and immense pain

= & watch the whole thing explode

The only question is who gets hurt the most. Even odds, but both people will get hurt. Guaranteed.
 

ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
@Friday , what seems is that @Overcoming is well aware of it.

Once you have sorted out your feelings and understand what’s yours, what’s theirs, if true friendship affection remains I think it’s completely okay to say you love them for what they are and not only for your projection.

It isn’t because you had or have a projection that you cannot manage it and have to seclude yourself from expressing the feelings that are genuinely directed at that person for the good reasons, not the bad ones.

It demands to know who they are though, so to go for knowing them. Going for knowing someone truly also demands exposure from yourself, and a certain level of affection-risk. Knowing where you are, who you are, what you want or would like, and negotiate the boundaries from there and giving the same autonomy to the other person. There are buffer zones in these negotiations and evidently you must be ready to lose the relationship if you realize there is a mismatch that cannot be bridged.

It is very different than making a love declaration that might make the other person feel uptight against their will. The art is expressing how you feel without making anyone responsible for it. But to ignore it and suck it up, I don’t believe it’s a good idea.

When both parties do come to that realization, even if it’s painful at least you know the reasons and it’s much easier to let it go as you don’t keep torturing yourself with what ifs. But staying in silence and not getting out of the bush, it’s the recipe to stay stuck, while relationships are dynamic. Silence is status-quo. It can be a force when you are in the position of power or when it allows you to brickwall against danger, or painful if a situation is a problem for you.

Who knows, perhaps it’s the fellow INFJ talking here.
 

Friday

Moderator
@Friday , what seems is that @Overcoming is well aware of it.
I’d tend to agree... which is why the question was phrased the way it was, very well aware of the issues in play, how murky they make things ((like is the fear from losing the friendship by putting too much pressure on it, or fear of bursting the fantasy bubble and losing “mom” over it? >.< Is not sayin anything keeping a hard line between fantasy and reality, or blurring the line because if the fantasy weren’t being protected something would have been said long ago? (Any other friend I’d have had a discussion about replying to texts ages ago) >.< And the reverse. Would saying something be insisting someone adhere to the fantasy (good moms don’t leave their kids in the pooper! Be a good mom! Reply!), and not saying anything keeping a hard line? >.< And on, and on. It’s difficult as hell, separating out fantasy from reality when they get this entwined 😵 )), and the potential results.

And also why I was directing my response to the well intentioned ‘Go for it!, rather than the OP.

Which doesn’t mean ‘go for it’ is wrong... just that the results might not be as expected, if instead of being honored by being thought of as their mom? (Which is entirely possible.) They’re someone like me, who would end the relationship on the spot. Or any of the wide array of possible responses which could fall under the OPs rejection umbrella. Like being insulted, or hurt, or acting lovely in the moment only to pull away after, etc. Shrug. People get complicated. Predicting how any one person is going to react to anything? Incredibly difficult, unless you know them. Even then, it’s not guaranteed. As people we know well can surprise us. It’s a hard situation. And a complicated one. It’s not just social anxiety in play, but trying to have a healthy relationship in the midst of working on unhealthy patterns.
 

RussellSue

Not Active
I am also an INFJ. Incidentally, so is my husband and my only sister. Being one INFJ is hard enough -- all 3, so closely knit makes life complicated, at times. My husband, especially, struggles with not knowing how he feels until he's a disaster.

Anyway, there is nothing wrong with telling others how we feel. However, it's so scary and can become so devastating, too.

I have been recently very isolated and relying too heavily on my husband, who loves me dearly, but is swamped with work and school and plainly doesn't have the time/energy to be a stronghold of emotional support right now. And so, I have been on the lookout for more independent ways of handling my shit which may or may not be useful to you.

One thing I have come on is positive self-talk and listening to motivational talks. Most especially, I have taken to self-praise because I've gotten little of it in my lifetime -- very little from family. The argument for this self-praise was that we tend to try and replace what praise/support we didn't get in childhood with what we might get from others and in turn appear/become needy and get hurt/let down because others can't make it right for us. If we do it ourselves, we can't get hurt so much in the effort. I have made an effort to pinpoint those things I did not get growing up and tell them to myself. In my case, there are several things I am telling myself throughout the day in the mirror or just wherever, trying to create an internal sense of acceptance and love. It is helping me not to run to him every time I think his love and support can save me. I also feel better the less I overwhelm him because he can't handle it right now and I don't need him to say so -- it's abundantly clear that he'd like to save me and might just drown himself in the trying. It's important for us that he finishes school, so I am very against making it impossible for him. This is what I would normally consider a tad too girly or whatever, but I got desperate and it seems to be helping.

Anyway, it may be worth a shot. It might be worth trying that before putting yourself out there to potentially get hurt. Your friend may love you dearly, but what you have to say could feel like a lot of responsibility for her.
 
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ruborcoraxxx

MyPTSD Pro
Predicting how any one person is going to react to anything?
I guess this is ptsd 101. Hinting and slowly making a situation around someone, even unconsciously, so you can be certain of the next step before you step in. Like, I’m not going to show my affection before I am certain of their affection. When you do this you leave all the emotional work to the other person, and some people eventually just get tired.

And then, just as you mention, it can blaf on your face because guess what, everyone is unpredictable at some point.

In the process of knowing them you also must let them know you. I guess this is where expressing your feelings genuinely with a degree of retenue might me useful.

I don’t know if anyone is familiar with relationship anarchy here, but I found it really useful when it comes to sort out feelings and expectations and how to navigate it.

Also I guess it can be a cultural thing too. In Latin America most people wouldn’t feel offended or weirded out if you tell them I love you. It’s a casual way to express affection and it’s not necessarily that deep. There is fondness and enthusiasm.
 

Overcoming

Confident
That’s a bold statement to make, if you don’t know the woman

I would. And have.
I’m not interested in being anyone’s surrogate mom.

Friend or mentor? Sure! But not the avatar/muppet for what they imagine a mom to be. Once upon a time I wouldn’t have ended a friendship over it, simply refused to play the role they want me to play, but I’ve come to learn it’s best just to end things right then and there. To do otherwise is simply unkind. Because I’m not a person to them, but a warm body to shove into a role. After me there will be the next warm body, and the next, and the next. Who we are individually? Doesn’t matter. We kinda sorta fit a mom-shaped hole, and our only value how well we’re able to be shoved into it.

Now... when a KID asks me to be their mom? I won’t end the relationship, but no way in hell am I going to break their heart & f*ck their trust in people by agreeing to be something I’m not. They are going to be loved to the moon and back by soooooooo many amazing people in their life, and I’m not going to ruin their ability to shine in that, to feel it in their bones and know it in their heart. There’s a special place in hell for people who break kid’s hearts by breaking their word to them. Instead? I’m going to have to be clever and determined, pouring massive amounts of energy into them, to start the lesson. >>> that they are going to be loved by soooooo many amazing people in their life, and that we carry those people in our hearts so we’re never alone, even if that person is on the far side of the world. They’re in our hearts, and we’re in theirs. <<< before I’m on the far side of the world & out of their life forever, except as a memory. So my memory is one more person who loves them, making them stronger; not one more person who left them. Because a child’s trust? Is a sacred thing.

I’ve seen this sort of thing play out waaaaaay too many times to ever willingly be a party to it.

Take all the problems inherent in Transference Therapy but?
- Remove the years of training & education, layers of personal & professional support, & eeeeeevery single boundary designed to keep both people safe in an incredibly volatile situation
- Add someone not working through their real issues, with a real person, in very limited blocks of time with a highly trained professional, but a 24/7/375 peer based relationship, with an imaginary/IDEAL/fantasy person that no one on planet earth could ever hope to live up to, bonded at the molecular level with a very real person and immense pain

= & watch the whole thing explode

The only question is who gets hurt the most. Even odds, but both people will get hurt. Guaranteed.
@Friday and @RussellSue and @ruborcoraxxx (There was a lot of communication between everyone, which I am appreciative of! Has given me much to think about and also been a comfort :) So, I'm responding to everyone together. I'm glad that you caught that I'm aware that transferring the mom issues on someone and expecting them to be responsible for my feelings is not my MO. The texting thing, I have talked with her and I believe it's a generational difference for us. Honestly, I've not stated that awaiting a response can be a challenge. It's not really the length of time for a response, but more my anxiety about how whatever I said might be received, even benign junk. I don't ask for anything or let on when I'm not doing okay. I keep it casual. I'm working on managing my anxiety and dealing with that constant feeling that I'm f-ing up. This has also been a season of distancing myself from my bio mom which has played on my insecurities to a point. Logically, I know what's happening. Internally, I'm grieving and also sensing rejection (even though I am pulling away). She so rarely had contact unless it was to get something she wanted out of me and dip (rejection). With any interaction with her, she spreads lies and there is backlash. I don't share my life with her (or I try not to give any details). She delights in my shortcomings and claims my successes as her own. Like a woman who doesn't even care for her offspring.

@Friday I am grateful for your interpretation of similar instances when people have approached you like that. I kept trying to imagine how I would respond to someone's transference. It is daunting. That's not what I'm looking to do.

I've evaluated and determined that the relationship has been beneficial and there are qualities that have felt maternal and moved my heart to realize that nurturing and tenderness can be glimpsed in various interactions and situations throughout one's life. I do feel accepted and like I can be myself. Yes, the hinting around and trying for safety...PTSD. I also believe that I'm going to have to be vulnerable to some degree, just haven't decided what that will look like. Certainly not professing undying love or something wild. Not my style.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
Hello, not sure if this has any merit but am an INFJ (if those are accurate), and never had any of that experience, as per identifying with a parent directly, far as I recall.

I think there can be many parts, as others have said:

-Identifying her as a ('your') mom: why would you want a mom, as an adult? Also, her idea of what is associated with 'child' or 'dtr', may not even be flattering, would that then be the way you want to be thought of?, Depending on the age difference between you, there may be similarities, but I don't think (traumatic) re-enactments generally end well. On the other hand, you can appreciate what you value about her, especially if it's teased apart from qualities you assign her simply based on similarities to your mom: looks, personality, mannerisms, age, etc.. Any similarity superficially does not corelate with (dis)similarities internally. Maybe you can enjoy the relationship for what it is, rather than thinking at all of what it is not? I do believe we can't write new endings, but we can see them in different ways, especially if your mom is still living, then there is always room for new perspective. But we can add new, unrelated positives too, even if they didn't exist. But they won't be the same. But maybe they will be better, ie even adults can choose to be honest, trusting and trustworthy, or vulnerable.

- Self esteem issues, and/ or social anxiety: they take time to tease apart, but how much negative evidence do you really have for your conclusions and self-assessments, and are you using cognitive distortions?

- Trust, and emotional regulation, as well as childhood neglect, and ptsd: how well do you know each other? Do you want/ need/ hope to regulate your emotions better? Do you have no voice (likely)? Do you muck up the challenge of being honest with honestly realizing some things can not, or rarely, or with rare people, even be said or shared, because they can't or don't want to hear, or don't know how to manage it?

- Attachment style: What you said here:

When I was younger, it didn't feel as odd, but if I'm honest, I did with them what I did with my mother. Seek to please all of the time. Earn kindness. Not be myself. Of those people, two were women who never had children. It gets so much stranger when you enter adulthood feeling like this. I am trying to eradicate this desire and meet it in myself. I don't want to be a burden to others.

and in other spots sounds like it may be a fearful avoidant attachment style.

Not sure for personality types, but I only know even INFJ have downsides:


Far as asking for feedback, telling the truth, voicing what's important, listening and returning the same, I think that's relationships. You can still admire, etc, but unlike someone being 'your (2nd) mom' there's no history or power differential. You are also both free to like the good parts of someone, or choose to love despite the bad parts, with time, knowledge and choice. But it doesn't change who each of you is- no one else who came before, or will ever come after will be you, her, or your mom. So the way I see it, then naturally playing an old tape can miss out on or distort the current reality.

Best wishes to you. Totally dregard if unhelpful! 🙄😊
 

Nevermore

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @Overcoming
I don’t usually post these days, but read this and actually wondered for a minute if I was the older lady in question! I’m not, but have a bit of a similar situation - but I am thf older woman.
I don’t answer all the calls and I don’t text back right away simply because this younger friend contacts me waaay too often for my comfort, and often asks for advice - it doesn’t feel like an equal friendship because I don’t really talk about my own issues w her because it just doesn’t feel right to. Maybe I do feel she casts me in the mother role!
Maybe the age difference is part of it too in that I really don’t like the phone these days, whereas I used to like a chat. My closest friends and I don’t do much of that at all - prob not so much asking for advice either!
At one stage she was ringing me almost every day. It was kind of stressful!
I think Friday said it above about being cast in a role to serve another’s needs rather than seen as a whole person. It’s not comfy on the other end!
It’s nice to be appreciated, as long as you see her for the whole person she really is, with a whole life of her own and wants and needs of her own, rather than who you need her to be it’s all good.
equal relationships are always the best!
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
I hope this makes sense because I learned something that I find fairly astounding, if it is true, as per INFJ. But I am just too tired atm (I am sorry) to re-read everything. but it flips it a bit on it's head, and is a bit like what is closest is hardest to grasp.

First of all, I kind of laughed @Nevermore saying phone or advice; I immediately cringed at the thought of every time I ever called or asked, lol. But not withstanding the truth in that, and ignoring projection, and how gross reaching out or need feels, I zeroed in on this:
I think Friday said it above about being cast in a role to serve another’s needs rather than seen as a whole person. It’s not comfy on the other end!
It’s nice to be appreciated, as long as you see her for the whole person she really is, with a whole life of her own and wants and needs of her own, rather than who you need her to be it’s all good.
^^ I agree, but I learned something shocking, re INFJ (I actually used to think there wasn't a lot of truth in it, that it was more like a game. But actually the truths are eerie). INFJ's actually are always the ones cast in the role of serving other's needs. Or, not so much cast but 'naturals' who know no other way. And when/ if they do express their needs, they indeed feel like they are not seen as a whole person, if expression of their needs is met with rejection.

I hope I'm not butchering this up, but they say INFJ type (and there are 4 subtypes I didn't learn about), has the ability, usually born from much neglect, to unconsciously and with ease identify and morph in to what others need, though they truly want to fulfill those needs and make others happy without personal gain. They are highly attuned to and focus on each person as if there was no one else (without trying to), and have great intuition which is almost always correct. Unfortunately, they also have lousy boundaries, specifically in terms of identifying their own emotions (too busy identifying others' emotions), and do not express their own needs, at least for a long while. So, need peace- here's a peacemaker. Feeling down? Here's a listening ear. Need support? Here is your cheerleader. Etc. What do you need- protection; safety; they will sense it and likely be able to provide it. Yet, being very sensitive, they don't want to hurt others, even when they leave. They truly don't wish harm or revenge. So when they go (and sometimes for a while when they stay) it's without much lost feelings, which makes them appear cold. Yet, it is only for their own protection because of hurt.

The controversial part is, none of this is contrived, it is very authentic, and both parties are at fault. By this explanation, the INFJ unconsciously fulfills the other person's needs (perhaps in this case she longs for a daughter?), but equally the INFJ by not expressing their own needs until late in the game (wherein the INFJ is seen as cold and the other person is seen as selfish +/or uncaring) co-creates the problem, and therefore can't default to just calling the other person uncaring. This usually ends in ghosting, or more likely an INFJ slam-the-door-shut, wherein the INFJ is left emotionless, as they feel hurt, and the other person thinks they were not a caring soul and it seems out of character.

They said this applies to all relationships: familial, romantic, friends, acquaintances and work colleagues.

I have to say it was the only time I ever related to an explanation of ghosting. And I am ashamed to admit years after the fact, "You are dead to me" slid off my lips once much to my surprise and chagrin.
equal relationships are always the best!
^^ I agree they are, too. But they said this is the problem: in @Overcoming 's post, they would say as an INFJ she is fulfilling the role not just because of her needs but also the woman's, that the dynamic exists as it does because Overcoming as an unintended-chameleon sensed what the woman needs and provided it. And if Overcoming expresses her needs, the older woman, who no longer has only her needs at the forefront and has not considered Overcoming's in the past because she doesn't express them, will see this as out of character for Overcoming. Meanwhile, Overcoming will be left to feel deceived, as the woman's shows of caring only really reflected how she felt if she was receiving the care and having her needs met, but not returning them (since with poor boundaries= no expression of needs). So only if both people can honor each other's truth and want to fulfill each other's needs, will there ever be equality, regardless of age difference.

And actually, it is true in the way that the one with the greater age always has the advantage of years. And just as you said @Nevermore , people of similar age relate. Like, I heard a cute joke, "A man's son says what was it like when you were a child? So the dad takes away his son's phone, unplugs the Internet and tells him to go outside and play til the street lights go on". Those of us of a certain age will understand that one. 😊 But of course it begs the question then, what was this woman getting from this, or where do they relate? We know only what fears Overcoming has expressed, but not what the older woman thinks.

Hope that makes sense, it's hard to explain in words. However, it got me thinking because so many people said, "I am INFJ" in their responses, and it's supposed to be about 1/10000 people. Even 3 having experiences to weigh in would be a probability of 1 in a million identifying as INFJ, weighing in.
 
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Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
Oops, busy editting and missed the time limit:

When you think potentially of the past, childhood, ptsd, comorbidities, trauma-re-enactments, attachment style, Myer-Briggs, etc etc- it's pretty complicated.
 
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